The following is an excerpt from John Welsford's book New Zealand Backyard Boatbuilder.  This book contains lots of information about boat building, design, and use.  Twenty one of John's boats are featured, as well.  Buy the book directly from him (he takes credit cards), or from Woodenboat, Classic Boat, or Watercraft magazines, or Reed Publishing.

Camping Equipment
by John Welsford - 


Camping is a matter of comfort.  I go cruising to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of new surroundings, and I find that exploring is much more enjoyable when I am well rested and fed.  I also like to be able to set up camp quickly, especially if the weather has caught me out.

One of the great things about camp cruising in small boats is that you have the ability to carry more, and heavier, gear, so this kind of camping can be quite different to others.  Comfort is all-important.  I can stand being miserable for only a short time, so I have over many years developed my priorities and equipment so that I can travel, if not in five-star luxury, then at least in a style that I can live with.

When planning the equipment, it helps to break the list down into categories---the most important first.

Set up for the night in Houdini.  Although the boat is only 13ft 9 in long I have an airbed under my sleeping bag,  my galley box with stove and utensils, a couple of plastic buckets, ( you dont wash your face in the purple one, it is for "other " uses) spare dry clothes and enough books and food for a week.    The tent is a cheap blue polytarp converted with two sided sticky tape and brass eyelets.  Very comfortable.

Set up for the night in Houdini.  Although the boat is only 13ft 9 in long I have an airbed under my sleeping bag,  my galley box with stove and utensils, a couple of plastic buckets, ( you dont wash your face in the purple one, it is for “other “ uses) spare dry clothes and enough books and food for a week.    The tent is a cheap blue polytarp converted with two sided sticky tape and brass eyelets.  Very comfortable.


If your shelter is inadequate, you may die---a blunt statement, but true.  In the open, exposure will kill you faster than anything except a major accident.  You can live for a week or so without water, a month or more without food, but only hours if wet and cold.  Your shelter should be very quick to erect and be windproof, both in terms of the draughts inside, and not being blown away by the wind.

I have a two-man mountain tent for when I am alone, and a four-man unit for when there are two.  These are the type with fiberglass 'bows' from corner to corner, have two skins (an inner and a 'fly'), a built-in groundsheet, and will stand without pegs once you've put some gear inside to hold them down.  I once spent ten hours inside the smaller one, lying in my sleeping bag, with wind gusts flattening the fabric down on top of me---not sailing weather at all!

I do test-assemble my tent on the lawn before I go; a small boat is not always able to keep to a schedule, and one needs to be able to erect the tent in the dark.


A good sleep can make an impossible situation look not nearly so bad.  I use an airbed---not your cheapo beach floatly thing, but a ‘real’ designed-for-the-job one.  I carry a small foot pump with which to inflate it; hyperventilation sets in after 100 puffs if I try to inflate the thing, and I have the space, so why not?

Sleeping bags are fine.  Bear in mind, though, that it tends to get colder than you would expect when close to water, so take a good one.  A cotton liner/sheet will make quite a difference (air it for a few minutes every morning to keep your bed fresh).  A blanket or a rug is a worthwhile thing to have, and of course I couldn’t sleep without my pillow.  This whole lot stows inside doubled plastic rubbish sacks, which in turn are inside a tramper’s pack and strapped in under the foredeck.  Even after swamping Houdini, my bed was dry!


Chris and Annette Peard sailing their yawl rigged Navigator sailing dinghy off Torbay on New Zealand's Waitemata Harbour, with her two masted rig and multiple sail combinations,  full built in bouyancy,  large locker space and wide side decks  this is a boat particularly well suited to coastal cruising .

Why eat poorly just because you are on holiday?  After all, this is supposed to be enjoyable.  My principal heat source, after trying many different stoves, is a Primus camping stove of the type that screws onto the top of a ‘2202' 450g. Propane gas cartridge.  This provides plentiful heat.  I carry a solid ‘tablet’ fueled emergency stove as a back-up, but rarely use it, and occasionally cook on a campfire.  Be careful with campfires though---few property owners appreciate the risk.

I now have my stove built into a box, with a stainless steel tray under the burner, and the lid fitted with flaps to form a windbreak.  My ‘galley box’ is large enough to carry all my cooking gear, including a spare gas cartridge, is solid enough to stand or sit on; and has rope handles, making it easy to carry.  Its size is about 700 mm long, 350 mm wide, and 300 mm high.  It does duty as a seat, a writing desk, a table, and a washstand.  As well as the stove I keep the following items inside:

A deep sided 250 mm diameter cast-iron frying pan with lid.  This fries, grills, stews and---by putting another container inside with the lid on---bakes.  Makes great bread!  Mix the ingredients before you go, then just add the yeast and water when you bake it.)

*A 150 mm cast-iron pot with lid.
*A ½ litre camp kettle.
*A 2 litre billy with lid for big lots of hot water.
*Three small nesting plastic bowls.
*A small stainless steel bowl which 
               does the baking in the big pan.
*Big tin plate
*Two each stoneware plates and bowls.
*Two mugs
*Sharp serrated knife
*Mixing spoon
*Wooden stirring and scraping thing
*Two knives, forks and spoons.
*Salt, pepper, dried herbs
             —chives, rosemary, bay leaves—brown sugar
*Matches in a watertight jar
*Paper towels
*Dishwashing liquid such as Sunlight
              —use it to wash your body too!
*Two dishtowels
*Scotchbrite scrubbing pad
*Hard bristle kitchen scrubbing brush

Ddraigge   ( Welsh for Dragon) is Navigator hull number one ,  built by Bob Jenner she is still cruising, although with other owners.

There’s not much you can’t cook with the above.  You may need to pre-cook some slow things, then combine the lot and reheat to serve.  A good idea is to set your galley up at home and try out the recipes in the safety of the dining room.  With a bit of forethought, you’ll have great grub when away.

For the moment I use things like UHT custard with those little Christmas puddings you buy in plastic pots.  I mix bread and scone mixes and store ready to use in Tupperware containers.  Tinned meats, such as Plumrose hams and smoked tongue, are great.  Bacon will last a surprisingly long time stripped of its plastic wrapping and kept cool.

Windsong , a shot over the helmsmans shoulder on a not very nice day.  Note the careful stowage of the gear and the  good wet weather clothing, care and preparation can make the worst days sailing better than the best day in the office.

I take lots of fresh fruit, UHT milk in small containers (one per day for me), and fruit juice to keep the vitamin C going.  A friend of mine, who should have known better, complained to me that her whole family had come down with boils after three weeks away on their big yacht.  Scurvy, caused by a lack of fresh fruit, was my diagnosis, and sure enough, the boils disappeared soon after they came ashore and went back to their usual diet.

Eating well is essential.  Simple meals are fine, but good quality and a balanced diet are major contributors to a happy cruise.


It should be possible to rake up enough clothing from the average wardrobe for at least the first few trips.  Loose fits are a help; try for light clothes overlain with warmer ones, and water/windproof over those.  I find that if I can stay warm and dry it’s no problem to peel a layer or two off.  Any of the now-common synthetic fleeces are useful ‘warmers’, but bear in mind that they are not usually windproof.  Denim jeans, on the other hand, are very poor outdoor wear, particularly when wet.

A really good set of wet weather gear is important, and some of the best gear I’ve seen comes from the industrial suppliers like NZ safety.

Remember that a disproportionately large amount of a body’s total heat loss is through the head, so if you’re going to buy anything get a snug hat from a ski or outdoor shop.  The other thing I wouldn’t leave behind is a pair a sunglasses’ looking into the sun for hours, particularly when it’s reflected off the sea, is a sure-fire recipe for a headache.

Camp cruising in a rowing boat is rather like tramping, but on the water.  You can though carry a lot more gear and by rowing early in the morning and during the evening calm you can cover a lot of ground.   Seagull , beautifully  built by Colin Quilter  is a really nice example of this simple design.


I read, on average, a paperback a day when cruising (which would be a worry should I ever contemplate a circumnavigation), so raid the second-hand bookshops on a regular basis.  Music is important, so I have a ‘sports’ model waterproof radio, as well as my flute so that I can make my own melodies.  I also carry a notebook in lieu of a formal log, and I am beginning to draw with a pencil and ballpoint.

Frank Bailey in his 15 ft Joansa  --  72 years old and heading off up the harbour to have lunch at some quiet spot.  Cruising can be for an hour or two, or a year or two.

I carry spares for the essentials; flares, tools, a kerosene (hurricane) lamp, a hatchet, a lifejacket (one for each person on board), a first-aid kit, and a big Swiss Army pocketknife, among other things.  Be sensible, you are often out of range of help and supplies,

so you need to be pretty self-sufficient—but don’t take the kitchen sink (use a plastic bucket instead).

Cruising is small boats is a sociable exercise.  I find that in bigger boats I meet very few people; most act as though their neighbors in an anchorage are not there.  However, a small boat easing through the crowd to its anchorage, obviously having traveled from afar, attracts people like bees to honey.  The number of meals I’ve enjoyed in return for a telling of my adventures is amazing, and the friends I’ve made have been treasures.


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